Review: Roy Orbison & Friends recall the Rialto

Roy, aka Barry Steele, hits the high notes
18 Feb 2014 @ 11.23 am
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Roy, aka Barry Steele, hits the high notes
Roy, aka Barry Steele, hits the high notes

Review: Roy Orbison & Friends
Venue: Grand Opera House, February 15

Roy Orbison and Friends arrived at the Grand Opera House in York and put on a foot stomping performance for a very appreciative audience.

Ask people to name Roy Orbison songs and they’ll probably offer up the same two or three song titles that everyone is familiar with, such as Only The Lonely or Pretty Woman.

Yet Orbison had a career spanning 30 years. It’s surprising just how many songs he performed, and how familiar they are once you hear them again.

I am disappointed that they didn’t perform Only The Lonely as that’s one of my personal favourites and was one of his most popular songs but I wasn’t disappointed in the performances.

This was a show absolutely packed with music. I counted 17 songs in the first half alone. There were hits such as Love Hurts, In Dreams, Crying, and Drove All Night.

A beautiful rendition of Walk On, with Roy backed just by the keyboards, really showcased Barry Steele’s amazing voice. He has the full vocal range of the original, hitting the higher notes with no effort – and he has that “prrrrr” down pat.

The video screen at the back of the stage often showed information about the songs, such as the writer or year they were performed, and at one point had footage of Roy recording in the studio.

Elvis Presley was played by Paul Molloy, who covered songs rom the Fifties and Sixties, such as That’s All Right Mama, Blue Suede Shoes, Return To Sender and GI Blues.

In the second half he wore a cropped red jacket, black shirt and trousers, an outfit I’ve not seen an Elvis tribute wear before but which brought back great memories of the films Elvis used to make in the early Sixties.

With a strong voice, and the leg moves to back it up, this was a convincing and talented performance. During his performance the video screen at the back of the stage showed black and white footage of Elvis during the period.

Roy Orbison. And friends
Roy Orbison. And friends

Jerry Lee Lewis, played by Boogie Williams, was the keyboard player for the whole evening, and had a couple of sets of his own.

The video screen at the back of the stage focused on his hands on the keyboard. At one point the smoke on the stage and the video screen made it appear as though smoke was coming from his fingers, and I wouldn’t have been surprised the speed he was moving at!

Maxine Misanda joined the band in the second half of the performance as Dusty Springfield.

I couldn’t have named a Dusty song before I went, yet all of them were actually familiar, and her rendition of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me was beautiful. She has a really strong, powerful and clear voice.

On stage Roy Orbison never moved. Unlike other performers who sway and move legs and generally flow with the rhythm of the music Roy would stand there, still and straight.

I mentioned how hard this must be for a performer to emulate and my Mum said she’d seen Roy Orbison back in the day when he was at The Rialto in York and that is exactly how he was on stage.

He never spoke, never said a word to the audience, just stood there and sang. Barry Steele had the stillness down to a T, yet engaged the audience through the night, with conversation and bad jokes.

He ended the evening with Pretty Woman, much to the appreciation of the audience, who were clapping, singing along and stamping their feet to the music.

This was definitely an older audience judging by the overwhelming aroma of Werther’s Originals surrounding me, but a very appreciative audience none the less, all with their own favourites.

Overall it was an evening of excellent music, great performances and a happy audience. I don’t think you can ask for anything more.